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Is winter really a bad time to try and sell your home?

15 May 2019

The widespread belief that winter is not a good time to sell a home is very far from being true.

To ensure that prospective buyers get a favourable impression of the property that is up for sale, it is essential to start preparing the house weeks before and get it ‘view-ready’, says Alexander.

This is according to Rowan Alexander, Director Alexander Swart Property, who says as an experienced agent looking back on his own experiences, it is now clear that some of his best months were in mid-winter.

He says buyers tend to be ‘really serious’ in winter, and not just checking out the market and the neighbourhood. They are also quite frequently in a hurry to find a new home.

To ensure that prospective buyers get a favourable impression of the property that is up for sale, it is essential to start preparing the house weeks before and get it ‘view-ready’, says Alexander.

He says all those steps which the seller should have done regularly as part of a preventative maintenance, but may have overlooked, should now be seen to:

- Gutters and drainpipes should be cleaned out and, if necessary, painted.

- The roof should be checked for leaks, and all known leaks dealt with.

- Shabby or old-looking walls and woodwork should be treated.

- Carpets, furniture coverings and curtains should be cleaned, if possible by professionals.

If these and other essential tasks are not carried out now, Alexander says buyers are likely to be put off. Complaints will almost certainly come in from the eventual buyer in the time that lapses between the signing of the sale agreement and the transfer.

“You can have no idea how bitter buyers can be if they find that regular preventative maintenance had not been carried out and some aspect of their new home is dysfunctional. Try hard to have the home you sell in excellent working order.”

He adds that attention should also be given to the garden - every rand spent on tidying up and putting in replantings that will look good in winter will pay for itself by imparting a well-groomed and attractive appearance to the surroundings. For many buyers, the state of the garden is the deciding factor in their reactions to a new property, he says.

“You simply cannot overdo your efforts to make a winter garden as welcoming as possible.”

Equally important, he says, rooms which are sunny and warm, despite this being the cold season, should have their curtains drawn, be open to sunlight and made as welcoming as possible. Cooler rooms can easily be heated and made to feel snug and cosy by adding candles, lamps, carpets, furnishings like throws and pillows, and should be prepared hours in advance of any potential clients’ arrivals. If the home has a fireplace or a gas heater and the day is cold, make sure these have been lit and are working well in time for any visit.

Many potential buyers just waited to see the election out of the way and will now ‘jump in’. As always in times of change and uncertainty, people postpone making big decisions until they see how the ground lies - but we know that many are now researching the markets in readiness for a move, says Alexander.

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